Peace on Earth!
The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation started the year disheartened by President Trump’s abrupt reversal of Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro’s extraordinary steps to normalize bilateral relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The Foundation issued a statement in support of continued engagement. It harms Americans and Cubans that President Trump chooses to support a long-failed policy.
We need to continue to support actions and initiatives that contribute to the normalization of relations and for a better understanding between peoples. - Ed Harris (Actor, Producer, Director)
You can read the statement signed by the foundation’s Advisory Board Members: Edward Asner, Harry Belafonte, Hector Elizondo, Ed Harris, Susan Sarandon, Martin Sheen, and Danny Glover at http://artsculturalbridge.org/foundation-blog/reaction-to-president-trumps-abrupt-reversal-on-us-cuban-foreign-policy
Unfortunately, Trump continued his repressive policy and issued new regulations restricting travel and making it more difficult for U.S. and Cuban people to understand one another.
International Women’s Day Celebration
The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation paid tribute to women around the world for International Women’s Day with an afternoon of music, film, poetry, performance and visual arts on Sunday, March 12, 2017 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice. The celebration brought together eight Venice-based women artists from five different countries with Cuban filmmaker Claudia Rojas to share experiences, challenges and beauty, through the arts.
The afternoon began with introductory remarks by Suzanne Thompson emcee followed by the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s Board Member, Alice Stek, and a video clip from the Foundation’s website.
Presentations by Community Partners included: Beyond Baroque’s director Richard Modiano, Venice Arts Council Chair, Emily Winters, and Women In Film International Committee Co-Chair, Ruby Lopez.
International Women’s Day celebrates and honors the role of women in people’s lives. Writer, artist and educator, Greta Cobar, inspired by her Romanian heritage, shared the history of International Women’s Day with an audio-visual presentation of historic photos and events.
Puerto Rican-American poet, writer and publisher Gloria Vando, read her poem “Cardinal Rule” and stated why it was important for her to publish works by women. “I did it in self-defense.... publishers, curators... all choose to publish works by men”. Gloria has won many awards and her poems are widely published and included on the Grammy-nominated Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work 1888-2006.
The first half of the show closed with Cuban filmmaker Claudia Rojas, the third participating artist in the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s cultural exchange program. She premiered her short documentary film Window Seat, an intimate view of a young girl’s struggle to reunite with her family. The film features Claudia’s niece Gleydis Viera who flew in from Miami to attend the event. Video clips of Claudia’s documentary of the International Women’s Day event are featured on the foundation’s website.
Artwork by Emily Winters, Kay Brown, Amy Kaps, Natasa Prosenc Stearns and CD’s by Jacqueline Fuentes were on sale in the lobby and refreshments were available on the garden patio during intermission and after the show.
The second half of the show opened with music from around the world by AfrikaSa/Bridget Graham followed by Chilean singer/songwriter Jacqueline Fuentes.
Slovenian born, video artist and filmmaker Nataša Prosenc Stearns screened three videos of the series - Nucleus Brass, Humans Crossing and Deafening Whispers / Alternative Facts which she describes as “addressing the uncertainty of our physicality from an embryo to a robot, the rising and ever migrating population on a progressively more damaged and claustrophobic planet and the unreliable state of truth, which has been replaced by fiction so often, that it has become impossible to recognize one from another”. In mid-2016, Nataša noted, “my work spontaneously started to lose colors and that no matter what the initial idea was, every project adopted political undertones. Even though my work is never directly illustrative, relying on its emotional and visceral impact rather than on preconceived notions, my new series Nightmares of the New World is clearly a reaction to the bleak socio-political climate.
The event ended with a fabulous visual feast by interdisciplinary solo performance artist Amy Kaps. She is in constant dialogue with her surroundings and those who inhabit it to entice the viewer to question what they see. Highly conceptual with the intention of altering perception and provoking thought, her objective is “to create honestly and to question the status quo, while reveling in a feast for the senses. The challenge is to decipher the common denominators, recognizing the similarities within the differences that connect us regardless of age, race or gender”. In 2015, Amy was sponsored by the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation as part of our cultural exchange, to perform at the 12th Annual Bienal de la Habana.
The International Women’s Day celebration was free of charge and made possible by: Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation, Campizondo Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund of The U.S. Charitable Gift Trust, Edward Harris and Aris Anagnos. Community Partners include: Women In Film International Committee, the Venice Arts Council and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center.
"Embargo" Directed by Jeri Rice
The Story of Politics and Collusion Behind the Cuban Embargo (blockade) September – October 2017, Santa Monica, New York City and Pasadena.
The 90-minute documentary follows Rice's quest for truth, beginning with a rare encounter with Cuban President, Fidel Castro.
The Foundation sponsored 72 Embargo screenings over 16 days in 3 cities, and secured 14 press articles and radio interviews.
Some of the highlights included:
- Advisory Board Member Hector Elizondo recorded a PSA for Pacifica Radio (KPFK Los Angeles and WBAI NYC)
- Journalist and author Robert Scheer’s endorsement, “Best movie I’ve seen on this subject”, (see video clip in August 28, 2017 blog). Jeri was later invited to be a guest on Truthdig’s podcast and to screen Embargo at two of his classes at the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism at USC.
- Ambassador Anayansi Rodríguez Camejo, the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations comments on opening night in NYC.
- Securing an interview for director Jeri Rice with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! live with guest Jose Pertierra from La Habana (9/20/17) https://www.democracynow.org/appearances/jeri_rice
Part 2:Web Exclusive: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/9/29/embargo (9/29/17)
- The Foundation helped Embargo qualify for the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences “Oscars” consideration by securing ads in the LA Weekly and Village Voice, one week runs in Los Angeles County and New York City, and a review in the Los Angeles Times.
The impact of Embargo in bringing leaders together brought home to me the important message of the film. The efforts made with the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s help, were a real blessing in creating Embargo with a platform from which to launch a new conversation. This conversation is now being continued at USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication and through Bob Scheer's classroom there, as part of the final exam. We have also screened at two colleges in North Carolina and have a scheduled college tour in Connecticut and a screening scheduled at UCLA.
Embargo did not make the Oscar Short List, it was indeed in consideration, along with 170 of the top documentary films of 2017.
I believe the screenings sponsored by the Arts and Cultural Bridge foundation were extremely successful in bringing focus to the issue of the Cuban Blockade and its inhumane effects on both Cuba and the United States. Passionate conversations were ignited in Los Angeles, New York, Pasadena and through the airwaves, including KPFK, Truthdig and Democracy Now! and everywhere in between! Westside Los Angeles press support, through your efforts, came in at 100% and all our local papers came on board in support of getting out the word. It was and continues to be a wonderful showing of community support.
One of the highlights of our screening was our New York panel discussion with Peter Kornbluh, Sandra Levinson, Maggie Alarcon and the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations, Anayansi Rodriguez, on the evening Hurricane Irma was hitting the Island.
The Arts and Cultural Bridge foundation is a vital link between artists and the community and for Embargo, particularly, has helped launch the conversation that was indeed the purpose of this documentary.
Thank you Suzanne Thompson and the Board of the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation for all your amazing work and support.
2017 was a very good year!
- All my best, Jeri Rice (Producer/Director of "Embargo")
In September, we celebrated the release of two of the Foundation’s supporters’ new books, “The Passionate Odyssey of Aris Anagnos” by board member Aris Anagnos, and “The Grouchy Historian” by advisory board member Edward Asner.
Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation is a 501 C3, non-profit organization based in Culver City, California, with a mission to build a deeper understanding and dialogue between people through the arts. The Foundation's purpose is to foster opportunities for artistic, educational and cultural exchanges between artists, organizations and institutions, primarily from the United States and Cuba, to share experiences, learn from each other, explore cultures and heritages, exhibit works, disseminate information, promote dialogue, support actions and initiatives that contribute to the normalization of relations and for a better understanding between peoples. Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/artsculturalbridge
The Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation looks forward to providing more opportunities in 2018 for artistic, educational and cultural exchanges, for a better understanding between peoples. We invite you to help us by supporting our work with a tax-deductible contribution at http://artsculturalbridge.org/donate